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Illinois and Michigan Canal in Illinois

Trip Overview

The IL and MI Canal is a man-made waterway at the confluence of the Des Plaines and Kankakee Rivers, with a great two part paddle from Gebhardt Woods park in Morris IL to Aux Sable Lock #8 in Aux Sable, IL (6.5 miles one way), and a second leg from Aux Sable to Chahannon, IL (8.5 miles one way). The canal in both segments parallels the Illinois River, and does not look like a canal; it is tree-lined, and often curves and winds like a 25 foot river. It passes under many bridges, with few homes, and frequently much to see on the canal. Walking trail is alongside the canal, but paddlers do not always see walkers. The canal in late 2005 is very clear in both sections and has a static approx 4 feet of water, no current, with nice out-back potential. Many sites and wildlife, and Aux Sable, old lock town with lockhouse still standing (see picture) is a highlight and is located mid paddle. A two day paddle is recommended as total distance end to end is about 15 miles one way. Note that it is hard to get in out of canal except at designated areas due to banking, but Mike Svobs Paddling Illinois book has many details of both segments, including put-ins and historical canal information. Morris, IL is a nice quaint town that makes a great end paddle destination for food and drink. Enjoy Illinois!

Accommodations:

Gebhardt Woods has latrines and picnic area. Plenty of free parking.

Fees:

None.

Directions:

I-55 to Route 47 to Morris, Illinois.

Contact:

Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Resources:

Svobs Paddling Illinois has routes for both of these trips.

  • Duration: Day Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip